Who can kill Welrith the Meek?

One of my players, who was playing a wood-elf moon circle Druid, with a Strength of 5, who spends as much of his time as possible being a bear, told me he wanted his character to die this session so he could try out a Barbarian instead.

Simple enough task, right? I don't usually go out of my way to prevent character death, so instigating it should be a walk in the park. But the other Druid had other plans.

Theme of the night was spiders. First combat was protecting a farm from four giant spiders. I rolled a record number of natural 1s during that battle. The mission would have gone off without a hitch except that one of the Rangers cast Fog Cloud at the beginning of the battle, making it impossible for the other Ranger to shoot anything and only helping the spiders murder a cow before the party could do anything about it. So he was promplty kicked out of the party before they went on to track the spiders back to their lair.

I had planned the session for four players and now had three, so already the difficulty should have shot up. We did some exploration mode and they ran into wandering monsters. The other two players excelled at a sneak check, but Welrith, a bear, hit something around 7. So when a pack of mountain lions (derived from the great cat stats), they only saw a lone bear and figured the three of them could overpower it and feast on delicious bear meat.

Now, considering that a party of four 3rd level adventurers is rated for a tough encounter worth 480 XP, and a group of three great cats is worth 510 XP, and there were only three party members left to fight them, the difficulty by the books should have been off the charts. That doesn't count for much when I can't roll a 10 to save my life. Nevertheless, Welrith the Bear was brought to negatives and would have fallen unconscious after his next turn, but the aforementioned other Druid got her turn first and threw out a Cure Wounds as a swift action, at range, then shot at the enemies, as if the spell that miraculously saved Welrith's life was the simplest matter in the world to her. The remaining Ranger followed suit with another Cure Wounds and Welrith was going strong again. So that's how three 3rd level adventurers dispatched three 4th level monsters with little effort.

They reached their destination, a web-covered cave, and decided to send the bear in to lure the spiders out. Fortunately, he failed a saving throw and got caught in a web. Several giant spiders descended upon him to attack relentlessly, with advantage because he was restrained. I started doing some serious damage. I even scored a critical. He failed a few of the CON saves against the poison, but both times I only rolled three poison damage, far below average.

The party could have helped, but an aranea was soon upon them.  That pesky Ranger was trapped in a web the aranea shot and took three or four rounds to make the DC 12 STR check to escape. I gave the aranea the spellcasting option. It hit each party member with a magic missile, hit the helpless Ranger with a shocking grasp, and cast sleep, which did absolutely nothing because all of the targets were elves at the time.

Meanwhile, the spiders bit Welrith again and again.  He dropped below zero, and used his action to escape the web before falling unconscious and reverting to a wood-elf. He was three hit points away from death, was prone, had an armor class of 13, and I had one spider left before the healbots could act. I rolled a 12, with advantage. I was one single die number away from finally killing Welrith the Invincible.

The others had run out of spells, so it was time for Cure Minor Wounds, and Welrith was back up again. He then entered combat as a wood-elf for the first time, entangled the remaining spiders and blasted the aranea with his thunderwave. Between the three of them they wrapped up the encounter, leaving Welrith with one HP.

I still had a shot, though. Earlier in the game, the party had acquired a potion of poison, disguised as a potion of healing. So when the Ranger handed Welrith an innocent-looking bottle of blue potion, Welrith was back in the bonds of death. 3d6 damage from 1 HP certainly had the potential to end his life, and it would happen every round until he made two successful saves. But of course every round the other Druid would use Cure Minor Wounds and completely negate the effect. Still, I'd have a shot of rolling high enough as long as he didn't make those Con saves. Two natural 20s.

This guy should get a statue. He should probably be king of the woods. He should be named archdruid of both circles.

That was all I had. I did everything short of having enemies attack him when it made no tactical sense. The aranea could have killed him, but attacking an unconscious foe when two conscious ones were around just wouldn't happen. The mindless spiders could do that, but not the aranea. So it could not be done. Welrith the Meek could not die.

So basically what we learned from this session is that:


  • Cure Wounds is way overpowered. Being a swift action AND a ranged spell AND automatically raising the target to 1 before healing is kind of absurd. It makes magical healing trivial.

  • Cure Minor Wounds is too good, for also being a swift action at range and automatically bringing the target conscious. It should stabilize a dying creature, not wake them up.

  • The encounter building guidelines are still off since my attempt at a near-impossible encounter was easier than an average one for them.



So will there be an option in the game for people who don't want healing to be completely trivial? For people who actually want a challenge out of D&D? Because death shouldn't be cheap, it shouldn't be too easy to die, but if you can't kill a player by any means with a concentrated effort, I think the game is too easy.

Very funny read (this is a compliment). I think you are right about the curing being a bit too powerful, and the encounter building is only an approximation. Still, the more I DM, the more I feel that I can get the hang of the threat levels (and I have a tough time playing all the monsters as written...I feel the need to tinker...adding HP, better armor, special abilities, etc.) When there are multiple healers in the group, it is really hard to kill someone. If the Druid were the only healer, then he'd be in trouble.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Wait, you guys kicked out a player because his character's actions didn't work out as he had planned?
While i guess i could see that in this instance the cure wounds was too effective, i think this was a very specific situation adn way out of the 'norms of play. Here's where i think you went wrong (im not trying to be over critical)

The major part of the problem arises from the narrative structure your game, not the mechanics.

One player said he would like to retire a character to play another, fine - now im assuming you had a conversation about how this would happen? (If not there's you first mistake but ill assume that you've got some experience under your belt and not patronise you) 

So you concluded the way to get rid of the druid out was to kill him rather than find a convenient story hook to have him disappear (with the potential to reappear as a PC or NPC later) but the method you chose to dispatch him was a regular fight, nothing special just a tough encounter against no-name monsters.

The reason it was so hard to kill him, was because there was no incentive for him to die - the rest of the players are acting as normal (keep everyone alive and kill the bad guys) so its hardly a surprise that thats what happened. A much better way of doing this would have been to engineer a situation whereby the druid has to sacrifice himself for some reason to save either the party or other group of people/place in the world. His death would have been part of the story (rather than a sidenote he would have been if the nameless monsters had killed him) and more importantly your player would have his barbarian, and the other players would have a cool story to tell.

Ultimately character death should be organic, ie you shouldn't be planning to kill players off in this fashion-  its railroady and frustrating, as thats actively what the players are trying to avoid. And if you succeed its usually with overwhelming odds or rule-bending  which would only serve to cause unnecessary friction and/or resentment in the group. 
Oh yeah and a player got kicked out for complciating combat by making a tactical mistake (fog) or ignoring the generaly accepted 'game plan'?

Whats that about? I'd be more concerned about that than "overpowered" healing.
Okay people who like to assume a lot about my game, here's what happened.

The players did not kick out another player, the characters parted ways with another character. Not because of his actions, but because he was a complete dick about it and put everyone in danger multiple times. After the first fog cloud failed to work as intended, he went on to cast a second one, against everyone's better judgment. Later when the farmer refused to pay him because the other characters pointed out that it was his fault one of the cows died, he took issue and threw a lit torch down in the guy's house as he stormed out. The other characters had no desire to work with such a person, they're all neutral good.

Now, for Welrith. I certainly made it very clear that he did not have to die to play a different character, this was his choice. The player insisted that his character be killed, and he wanted it to happen organically, not from a forced story hook, so that's what I was trying to accomplish. He asked for a bland, meaningless death, so I would try my best to give him one.
Okay people who like to assume a lot about my game, here's what happened.

The players did not kick out another player, the characters parted ways with another character. Not because of his actions, but because he was a complete dick about it and put everyone in danger multiple times. After the first fog cloud failed to work as intended, he went on to cast a second one, against everyone's better judgment. Later when the farmer refused to pay him because the other characters pointed out that it was his fault one of the cows died, he took issue and threw a lit torch down in the guy's house as he stormed out. The other characters had no desire to work with such a person, they're all neutral good.

Now, for Welrith. I certainly made it very clear that he did not have to die to play a different character, this was his choice. The player insisted that his character be killed, and he wanted it to happen organically, not from a forced story hook, so that's what I was trying to accomplish. He asked for a bland, meaningless death, so I would try my best to give him one.

I see, agian im not trying to be critical - just hopefully shed light on where things might have run afoul. 

Killing characters as you've found out can be a hard task if your playing fair (and by reading you blow by blow account its sounds like you are) normally non 'scripted' PC deaths and TPK's happend due to a mixture of incredible odds and bad luck/judgement on the players  part.

Again i think the issue here is not the fact that healing is overpowered, rather that a number of factors came together that made it hard to acheive a desired result, one that required very specific circumstances to happen.

And we all know that players love to scupper our best laid plans :P 
I still think healing is overpowered, and trivialized. Making it a ranged spell and a swift action is too much. And I don't particularly care for the rule that any magical healing automatically brings the target to 1 before healing. I also hate the automatic full health recovery for sleeping.

I see stories on here about how characters will drop like flies just to rise up again the next round to fight more and then fall again, because a Cleric is just using Cure Minor Wounds as a swift action every turn. I feel like that's insane; they should be fleeing for their lives if they have one hit point. The conscious party members should be swarming in to protect their fallen companion. He's unconscious and dying, but they just think "don't mind him, the Cleric will fix it." It used to be "thank Pelor we had a Cleric!"

I guess some people like for healing to be this easy, I'm just hoping there's an option to return the fear of death to the table.
I also like the idea that healing spells should be touch spells. I'd also like inflict wounds spells to be touch too. Those become overpowered on the other side of table.

Perhaps, ranged healing can be handled specifically through channel divinity or only granted to specific types of clerics (a priest option that has to avoid combat completely).

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I still think healing is overpowered, and trivialized. Making it a ranged spell and a swift action is too much. And I don't particularly care for the rule that any magical healing automatically brings the target to 1 before healing. I also hate the automatic full health recovery for sleeping.

I see stories on here about how characters will drop like flies just to rise up again the next round to fight more and then fall again, because a Cleric is just using Cure Minor Wounds as a swift action every turn. I feel like that's insane; they should be fleeing for their lives if they have one hit point. The conscious party members should be swarming in to protect their fallen companion. He's unconscious and dying, but they just think "don't mind him, the Cleric will fix it." It used to be "thank Pelor we had a Cleric!"

I guess some people like for healing to be this easy, I'm just hoping there's an option to return the fear of death to the table.



I do get what your saying, it just doesnt feel overpowered to me at least in the sessions I run. One group who for a while didnt have a cleric so were very much 'thank pelor' when they did get one (after a PC death) and another group who have experimented with mystical healer druid - much more limited healing capacity. Remeber that not everygroup will always go with a cookie cutter party setup - especially when choosing much more story driven components (backgrounds and specialities) for their characters.

I'll be interested to see how the next play packet handles these spells if at all, i dont think i'll be too upset if they change. 

At first level, the spells seem more powerful since starting hit points for characters is relatively low. Healing 1d8+4 to a PC that has 8 hp at max is a substantial heal. At higher levels, it doesn't seem as substantial. By the same token, doing 4d8 or 1/2 that if save is made on inflict is way too powerful against lower level PCs.

I wonder if an optional rule would help the people who don't like the way heals bounce unconscious PCs back into the fray. Something like this: If a creature is revived from 0 hit points, he or she cannot do anything but use full defense for one round.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I think Cure Wounds should inflict the same damage that it heals when used against undead. It makes no sense that it is four times as powerful when used offensively; it's the exact same spell on a different target.
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